DepositThe shortest species: how the length of Russian poetry changed (1750–1921)

The paper studies long-term changes in the length of Russian poetry (1750–1921) to reveal the relation of poem length (counted in lines) to a poetic form and its evolution. The research has shown a dramatic decrease in the mean and median poetry lengths during the 19th century. This decrease was followed by the decline in length diversity, which resulted in short poems (8–20 lines) overpopulating the literature during the age of Modernism. We argue that this transformation towards the short form could be understood in the framework of cultural evolution: Russian poetry struggled to keep its literary niche, while being continuously under the pressure of successful large narratives of the 19th century. Therefore, it was forced to develop complexity while being highly constrained formally (accentual-syllabic verse and rhyme maintained for a long time) by the shrunk length of a lyrical poem.

DepositJesuit Conspirators and Russia’s East Asian Fur Trade, 1791–1807

In 1791, amidst growing anxiety about British encroachment on its fur trade with the Qing Empire, the Russian government discovered that Britain was sending a large and important embassy to Beijing, led by Lord Macartney. In an attempt to derail the negotiations, Russia enrolled the Polotsk Jesuits in a plot to convince the Qing of the nefariousness of British designs. The conspiracy was not a success, despite Macartney’s failure. The Jesuits both in Belarus and Beijing continued to play a central role in Russia’s geopolitical plans in the region for the next decade and a half, although ultimately the project to establish a Russian Jesuit college in the Qing capital failed. Using Russian as well as Jesuit archival sources, the article reconstructs the secret plans, mishaps, and miscalculations that shaped this unusual relationship.

DepositUnpacking Viazemskii’s Khalat: The Technologies of Dilettantism in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literary Culture

This article explores the image of the khalat, or dressing gown, in and around Petr Viazemskii’s 1817 poem “Proshchanie s khalatom” (Farewell to My Dressing Gown). As the poem circulated during the period between its creation and printing, its central image—the khalat—became enshrined as a symbol for early nineteenth-century literary culture around and within the Arzamas circle, emphasizing a creative inner life and an informal approach to writing. The poem mediates between friendship, honor, authenticity, and authorship and the formalities, duties, and expectations of society life. The khalat image appears in later poems, correspondence, and occasional writings by Anton Del’vig, Aleksandr Pushkin, and Vasilii Zhukovskii, among others. Tracing the image through its intertextual influences, extratextual impact, and memetic evolution, I examine the way it contributed to the development of an intellectual network through information transfer during the early nineteenth century and beyond.

DepositThe Structure of the Fabula (II): Boris Tomashevski, ‘Thematics’; Mieke Bal, ‘Narratology’ (Narrative Theory, 2)

‘Narrative Theory’ is an online introduction to classical structuralist narratological analysis. The second section addresses the structure of the action or fabula provided by the Russian Formalists, notably by Boris Tomashevski, contemplated from the standpoint provided by Mieke Bal’s structuralist theory of narrative. The chapter addresses the Formalist definitions of fabula and siuzhet, the Formalist notions of motifs and narrative macrostructures, the two logics of narrative, kinds of motifs, horizontal sections of the fabula, the vertical integration of narrative levels, with an an approach to exposition and motivation, and concluding with the Formalist views on time, space, and character.

DepositШекспир в современной русской культуре: национальное и глобальное / Shakespeare in Contemporary Russian Culture: The National and Global

The article presents the concept of the project aimed at studying the influence of W. Shakespeare’s oeuvre on contemporary Russian culture. A special attention is paid to the analysis of specific features in the Russian reception of the Shakespearean legacy in the 20th–21st centuries in the interrelation of the national and global. In this respect, it is quite significant how people celebrated the anniversaries of Shakespeare’s birth in Russia in 1864, 1914, 1939, 1964 and 2014. These observations give an opportunity to present the Russian Shakespearean sphere in its historical perspective and to draw some conclusions on the role of Shakespeare in contemporary culture of Russia. The author considers some tendencies typical for the appropriation of Shakespeare’s works in Russia in the 20th–21st centuries. В статье представлена концепция проекта, задачей которого является изучение влияния творчества У. Шекспира на современную русскую культуру. Особое внимание уделено анализу специфики отечественной рецепции шекспировского наследия в XX–XXI вв. во взаимосвязи национального и глобального. В этом отношении небезынтересно проследить, как в России отмечались шекспировские юбилеи в 1864, 1914, 1939, 1964 и 2014 г. Эти сведения дают возможность представить отечественную шекспиросферу в исторической перспективе и сделать некоторые выводы о роли Шекспира в современной культуре России. Автор рассматривает некоторые тенденции, характерные для апроприации шекспировского творчества в нашей стране в XX–XXI столетиях.